Anneke, Mathilde Franziska Giesler

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ANNEKE, Mathilde Franziska Giesler

Born 3 April 1817, Lerchenhausen, Westphalia; died 25 November 1884, Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Also wrote under: Mathilde Franziska Daughter of Karl and Elizabeth Hulswitt Giesler; married Alfred von Tabouillet, 1836; Fritz Anneke, 1847

The oldest of 12 children, Mathilde Franziska Giesler Anneke received a strict Roman Catholic education. Her marriage, at age nineteen, to a loose-living and autocratic French wine merchant ended soon in divorce. Anneke spent the next 10 years writing and translating poetry, and writing a drama and two prayer books for Catholic women.

Anneke's second marriage was to a discharged Prussian artillery officer with revolutionary ideals. During the political activity of 1848, Anneke published Neue Kölnische Zeitung, a revolutionary journal, and Deutsche Frauen Zeitung, the first women's publication in western Europe. Both journals were quickly suppressed, the first because it advocated the rights of the people over the aristocracy, and the second because it championed the social emancipation and equality of women. Fritz Anneke led a force of soldiers in the German Palatinate during the Revolution of 1848, and Anneke rode by his side into battle. After defeat, however, the two fled Germany and eventually settled in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, in 1849.

Anneke's first writings, published under the name Mathilde Franziska, reveal her strict Catholic upbringing. Her poems in Heimatsgruss (1840) display the dreams and longings of a woman reared in an oppressive atmosphere. Anneke left the Catholic church after her divorce in 1839, but it was not until 1847, the year of her marriage and her father's death, that she became a freethinker. That year saw the publication of her pamphlet Das Weib in Konflikt mit den sozialen Verhältnissen ("Women in Conflict with Social Conditions"), a pamphlet advocating suffrage for women.

After settling in Milwaukee with her husband and their six children, Anneke founded Deutsche Frauenzeitung, a feminist journal published monthly at a press that utilized women as printers. In an effort to sabotage the journal, a German typographical union formed and demanded that printing firms fire any women who worked as printers and compositors. Although Anneke attempted to fight the union, she and her husband decided to move east, settling in Newark, New Jersey, where she published her journal weekly for two-and-a-half years.

Anneke also furthered the issue of women's rights by public speaking. She addressed more than 500 Milwaukeeans in 1850, and spoke at the woman's rights convention held in New York in 1853. After separating from her husband in 1861, Anneke spent the Civil War years in Switzerland with a friend, Mary Booth, to whom she dedicated one of her best known poems, "The Last Song."

Anneke returned to Milwaukee in 1865 as a correspondent for German newspapers, but she quickly dedicated herself again to women's activities by cofounding with Cecilia Kapp and Amalia von Ende the Töchter Institut in 1865. Anneke not only acted as principal, she also taught courses in every area of the curriculum—social problems, economics, and languages.

Anneke remained active in suffrage activities by helping to found the Wisconsin woman suffrage association in 1869. Two years before her death in 1884 she saw her drama, Othone, oder die Tempelweihe (1844, The Dedication of the Temple), per-Home Cemetery simply reads: "We have never bent the knee before false Gods; /We have never cowered in strong weather."

Other Works:

Deutsche Frauenzeitung (1852-1855).


Heinzen, H. M. et al, "Biographical Notes in Commemoration of Fritz Anneke and M.F. Anneke" (manuscript in the State Historical Society of Wisconsin, 2 vols. 1940). Krueger, L., "Madame Anneke: An Early Wisconsin Journalist," in WMH 21 (1937).

Reference Works:

National Cyclopedia of American Biography (1892 et seq.). NAW, 1607-1950 (1971).

Other reference:

Milwaukee Historical Messenger (1967).


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Anneke, Mathilde Franziska Giesler

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